Patristic Lectionary—4 May, Monday in the Fourth Week of Eastertide; The English Martyrs

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[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from Durham University’s two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings.  The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University).  Click here for the link to the lectionary.]

Patristic Lectionary—4 May, Monday in the Fourth Week of Eastertide; The English Martyrs

[The image is of an icon of St Barnabas]

Acts of the Apostles 12:24 – 12:14

The Mission of Barnabas & Paul

The word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark.

Now in the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem; but they passed on from Perga and came to Antioch of Pisidia.

Bishop Eusebius of Emesa

The Apostles and the Faith, 2:15-16

Two men entered a city, carrying with them no food, no money, no extra garment. Who do you think welcomed them? What lodging was prepared for them, and where? Do you not marvel at the authority of the one who sent them and at the faith of those who were sent? Two strangers entered a city. What did they possess? What did they preach? ‘He was crucified,’ they said. They were humble, untrained, unlettered, needy. Yet what they preached was the Cross, and it was from this preaching that faith was to come!

But despite the obstacles virtue won out. The Cross was preached and temples were razed; the Cross is preached and kings are won over. The Cross is preached and the wise are proved wrong, pagan feasts are abolished, and their gods are melted down. Why do you marvel that the Apostles were believed or that they were received? Let not these great wonders pass us by. Men who were strangers, unknown and knowing no one, and bringing nothing to catch the eye, traversed the world, preaching the crucified one, and commending fasting in place of drunkenness, a troublesome chastity in place of lust: a serious burden to those who were concerned to accept these exhortations to moral behaviour in place of abominable practices.

These men took possession of peoples and made cities their own. Yet what treasure did they have? The power of the Cross. Consider the riches of kings and the riches of the Apostles. See how different is their condition. A king is magnificent, the Apostles are humble; though mortal, they effect by God’s power the deeds of God.

Before the crucifixion the disciples do nothing, but after it they act. If they accomplished anything before the crucifixion, they did so in obscurity. But after the sacred blood erased the decree written against us; after we who were unclean were sprinkled; after death was put to death by death; after God, through a man, conquered him who was devouring men; after death swallowed him up, only to cast him forth; after sin was put to death by obedience; after Adam had been restored by another man; after error had been corrected by the Virgin; after the thief entered Paradise on the very day on which Adam had departed from Paradise; after error that had entered through a tree was corrected through a tree; after thorns on the forehead replaced the thorns produced by the soil; after the Father showed mercy and the Son received this mercy in our place; after sin was put to death and corruption was destroyed – then the disciples, who before the crucifixion had been fearful, after the crucifixion raised their voices.

The Apostles obey; they rouse up men laid low in darkness. For power was imparted to those to whom the Apostles came. They were no longer what they had been, what we had been; but they were clad with power. And just as iron is cold before the fire is kindled, but when it is placed in the fire and grows white-hot, it casts off its coldness and enkindles other things with its heat, so do mortal men who have put on Jesus.

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